Thursday, December 9, 2010

Part 2 - A whole lot more Gothic - Day 4

Today was the start of rehearsals for part 2 of the Gothic Symphony, movements 4, 5 and 6. Extra musicians consisted of the addition of 2 euphoniums, extra bass trombone(s), bass trumpet, extra trumpet(s). Maybe some extra winds too but I don't know the wind scoring at all. Maybe the winds had a much better general attendance today. Either way, they are sounding good.

The most obvious difference for the brass, especially the tuba section (I don't get tired saying that) is that there are less notes in the second half than the first. This was a welcome relief as many brass chops were anything but bold. Tuba 1 part hardly went above the staff, thankfully. Especially after flying in the stratosphere with the first 3 movements.

But quite literally, it is in unison with tuba 2 playing below the staff for a large portion of the time. Movements 4, 5 and 6 are more like a standard orchestral tuba part. Extra bass troms, including a contra bass trombone (Tim has acquired a Miraphone Bb contra bass trom) double the tuba parts in places. Occasionally the contra was the lower octave and even a soloist! Some more very interesting writing showing its colours today.

Overall ensemble is quite good, considering many were sight reading part 2, yours truly included. Some eclectic writing came trough today. A bass trom likened a section to Christmas music, which was quite accurate and apt, given that it is now the silly season. There were also a few "cute" and some march like sections that seemed disjointed from the sections before and after them. Some very interested writing indeed. Once we have a tutti orchestra (probably might happen in about a weeks time with some musicians arriving late) it will be interesting to hear this symphony in all its glory.

Parts of rehearsals became quite frustrating at times. Much time was spent "fixing" string parts, some time for quite extended periods. The brass section almost yelled out in unison "do it in sectionals", so we could proceed playing. Apparently part of the cello parts have many many erros in it. Why didn't they (publishers) correct these errors from past performances? Why didn't we have sectionals before rehearsing the tutti orchestra? So much time could have been saved. But with hindsight, it's easy to criticise and direct.

Bottom line is that I, and many others I chatted with about this, wouldn't want to be anywhere else but here, rehearsing for a performance of this once in a lifetime opportunity.

No more obvious '87 QYO3-ers have been found performing with the Gothic orchestra. If anyone reading this knows of anyone, please let me know here by leaving a comment.

My "being special" feeling is ever growing day by day. I've checked more mugs and none are like my unique mug. I chatted with Jeff Wecker (Musicians manager) about this and how and who he got to print these mugs. I felt even more special after we finished chatting! For those of you who have no idea what I'm rambling on about, please read my "Day 2" blog in this series.

Another bit of trivia, or actual scoring for the symphony. Along with the 4 brass bands surrounding the orchestra, each "band" is accompanied by a set of tympani. Yes, 4 sets of tympani are required, in addition to the double set of tympani already in the orchestra. Some of the extra 4 typani are scored "off stage"!

Now you can begin to understand the logistical nightmare that this symphony brings to the table. Another reason why this symphony is believed to be cursed. Most attempts to perform it end in failure. Even this Queensland organisation's first attempt to perfom it a couple of years ago has been documented in Wikipedia

Tomorrow, Day 5, will be a half day for me, as I need to take the afternoon off and catch up with my work and rest my chops (slang for lips, for non brass playing people) at the same time. Hopefully this perfect QLD weather will remain as such!

Stay tuned for more of the Gothic Tuba Experience

John Szkutko

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